After months of anticipation, Microsoft rolled out its latest dashboard update for the Xbox 360 console on November 19th, which among other things, added support for Netflix's streaming service. The update couldn't come quick enough for Netflix subscribers with an Xbox Live Gold account, but not everyone is finding that the wait was worth it.
An unknown glitch has been wreaking havoc on the video streams causing both loss of quality and long delays before a movie is watchable. Xbox 360 owners aren't alone in their plight, as the problem first manifested itself in homes using the $99 Roku box. A Netflix spokesman said the company is working on a fix for both platforms, but that might be hard to do without having identified the culprit.
"We're doing all of the analysis we can," said Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey. "We're looking at the region, at carriers...we're working diligently to identify the problem. Unteil we have, we certainly don't want to speculate at all. Look, there's no manual to take off the shelf here. Netflix has created something new here."
Swasey also said Netflix isn't taking the complaints lightly, despite the relatively small number of complaints.
Hit the jump and tell us how your Netflix experience has been.
This past Thursday both Facebook and Google announced their own separate “Connect” features, designed to extend social networking capabilities further across the Internet. The connect programs, named Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect respectively allow users of the two sites to port content they have entered (such as photos, contacts, notes, comments and status updates) to other partner pages.
Google’s service is already available to any site publisher that chooses to implement it. The features become available with a simple copy and paste of some code, so advanced coding knowledge isn’t required. Once it’s been added to a site, users can log into the service using their Google, Yahoo, AOL or OpenID accounts.
Facebook is looking to their users for help in convincing web sites that their service is worthwhile. “Obviously our launch partners don't cover all the websites you use on a daily basis, so if you want to see this list grow, get in touch with your favorite websites, developers, and services, and tell them you want to connect. With your help, we can all share more information across the web,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
To date, the RIAA has sued more than 20,000 individuals over alleged copyright infringement, and one could argue that the RIAA has turned its suing spree into a business model. If that's the case, consider what DigiProtect is doing to be nothing more than modern day business economics 101.
The German company has been sending out thousands of letters to UK residents accusing them of using file-sharing networks to download and distribute dozens of porn flicks. The 20-page letters lay out all the embarrassing details, including the name of the film(s) and what date and time the alleged download took place. Similar to what the RIAA has been doing, DigiProtect offers to settle out of court, usually to the tune of £500 (about $740USD).
Hit the jump to find out what the studio being represented has to say about the letters (you'll be surprised).
So Microsoft isn't going to acquire to Yahoo, but it did manage to snag Qi Lu, a former search and advertising executive at Yahoo with 10 years of experience under his belt. Lu, 47, will serve as Microsoft's president of the Online Service Group and will report directly to company CEO Steve Ballmer.
"I am tremendously excited to welcome Qi to Microsoft,” Ballmer said. “Dr. Lu’s deep technical expertise, leadership capabilities and hard-working mentality are well-known in the technology industry, and Microsoft will benefit from his addition to our executive management team."
Lu will clock in for the first time on January 5, 2009 and begin work overseeing several groups, including the Advertiser & Publisher Solutions business. While Lu's experience should be a valuable asset in helping Microsoft become more competitive with Google and Yahoo in online search revenue, it's interesting to note that Microsoft has replaced the leadership role of its online unit about every two to three years since jumping into the internet business a little over a decade ago. And not everyone is convinced Lu will fare any better.
"Does this make Microsoft more competitive in search today? No," said Colin Gillis, an analyst with Click Capital Research in New York.
According to Pingdom, a company that keeps tabs on website availability, Google's service level agreement (SLA) for its Google Apps service might not be fair to the consumer. As outlined in the SLA, paying customers would receive a credit if Google Apps fails to maintain a 99.9 percent monthly uptime. The problem with that, as Pingdom sees it, is that only outages that last 10 minutes or more are counted as downtime by Google.
"What if Google Apps was down for 9 minutes, up for 1 minute, down 9 minutes, etc.?" Pingdom wrote in a blog post. "That would mean 54 minutes of downtime each hour, but Google still wouldn't count it because none of the individual downtimes lasted 10 minutes (or) more."
Pingdom admits its example represents a worst case scenario, but points out in a more real-world example how 57 minutes of downtime might only be counted as 26 minutes, or less than half of the actual outage. But Google says nothing fishy is taking place. According to Rajen Sheth, senior product manager for Google Apps, the company's SLA is identical to others' in the industry.
Hit the jump and tell us what you think about Google's SLA.
Microsoft appears to be well on its way to releasing Windows 7 Beta 1, and may have it available by the middle of January. To get your hands on a copy, you'll need to attend one of Microsoft's upcoming MSDN Developer Conferences, with copies ready perhaps in time for the January 13 events in Chicago or Minneapolis. Word around the web is that attendees will either receive a Windows 7 Beta DVD at the event, or if the Beta isn't ready in time, Microsoft will send a copy in the mail as soon as they become available.
Earlier this year, Microsoft gave out alpha editions of Windows 7 to those who attended PDC. At the time, Microsoft said it would release a beta version in early 2009, though it still has not committed to a specific date. Attending an MSDN Developer Conference ensures you'll be one of the first to get a copy, and it's not too terribly priced at $99, assuming you're not planning to go solely for the DVD.
Attendees will also have a chance to win several prizes, including a Mindstorm NXT robot with a copy of Professional Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio, a Mobility Pack consisting of a LifeCam NX-6000 and Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse 6000, and a Gamer Pack containing some Xbox 360 swag.
Microblogging website Twitter came very close to being acquired by leading social network Facebook, but the two parties eventually retreated from the brink. Twitter’s CEO Mr. Williams admitted that his company took the negotiations seriously.
In the beginning, Valve created Half-Life 2, and it was pretty flippin' awesome. Then, more towards the middle of the beginning, Garry Newman whipped up Garry's Mod, bestowing upon gamers a simple interface behind which they could all wield Valve's body-flinging, face-pinching powers. And after that, things got a little weird. But not for creator Garry Newman, who -- after selling his mod for $10 a pop on Steam -- found a new breadwinner.
Now, two years later, Garry's Mod has stripped 312,541 kids of their lunch money, bringing the total haul up to roughly $3.1 million -- or about 30 Midways.
"GMod hasn’t just given me financial stability," Newman said in a champagne-stained blog post. "It’s also made me a lot more experienced in c++. I learned how game engines are meant to work. I got to fly to Valve HQ and meet some game making dudes. I got to tell a nice bearded fellow how I was sick all over myself in the shower after eating airline food, and then realising I was talking to [Deus Ex creator] Warren Spector."
"And it’s my hope that it has inspired other people to do stuff. I mean, I’m a fool like you, I’ve just got more experience in pretending I’m not, and I did it... So why can’t you?"
We don’t know how we’ve managed to live this long without a set of vinyl Gmail stickers for our computer. Finally, our prayers have been answered, and Google’s offering to give away these priceless keepsakes for free. Just send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the address at this page, and you’ll get back a set of Gmail stickers.
The stickers include the Gmail “mvelope” icon, a set of Gmail hotkey reminders to stick on your keyboard, and one of three (collectible!) nameplate stickers. You’d better hurry, though, because knowing the way us nerds snap up anything Google or pseudo-ironic, these suckers are probably going to go fast.
Is anyone else as excited to receive your Google stickers as we are? Let us know in the comments. And if anyone gets the unicorn faceplate, hold onto it—we’ll trade you.
IBM is looking for people to break their Microsoft addiction by launching a Linux-based collection of virtual desktop applications that run on a server – without the need of desktop hardware.
Given current economic pressures, IBM predicts that this virtual route of computing could save some corporate customers up to $800 per user. This, thanks to the low price point put on the Virtual Linux Desktop. It is available today for $59 to $289 per user, all depending on what level of software and service is desired.
“Deploying your technology this way is going to save you something more than 50 percent of your total costs,” said Jeff Smith, IBM's vice president for open source and Linux. “As customers face an increasingly challenging economic situation, they're looking at everything they're spending money on.”
While the idea sounds great in theory, there are some questions that remain. Mostly, will corporate customers really go for a system that stores their data on a server instead of locally?